Cost of the status quo is way more expensive

Cost of the status quo is way more expensive

Just read this great article by a parent who works in a public charter school. Charter schools are not immune to the problems of traditional public schools – But you also can’t

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

read this article and proclaim traditional charters are superior. Please focus on the content of the article, about parents making choices for their own kids.

These are two former blogs about this very topic – what parents decide for their own kids:

When the only option is a failing school & Sounds good in theory, but not in practice

This article is written by a parent working in the same school her own child attended.

My 8-year-old daughter’s class was chaotic after her first-year teacher got married in Chicago and then relocated to Texas after Christmas break. It was hard enough to bring on a new teacher in the middle of the year, but the situation was only exacerbated when the replacement teacher was also brand new to the profession. (In fairness, my daughter’s class of 28 students was difficult to manage even for more experienced teachers. Teachers had to tap into their inner guru each and every day.)

My administration was trying to work with the replacement teacher, but it was painful for me to watch professional development attempts being made for a novice teacher who was in full crisis mode. Assurances from my school leaders that, with more instructional coaching, the class would gradually get better in time, fell flat with me. It was now February—how much more time could my child afford?

The complacency that the administration goes through in keeping this teacher, or hiring her in the first place. I talked a little bit about how teacher education needs to be improved in this blog but I am tired of administrations doing what they can to help (even if it’s ineffective) and settling for that being the best they can do. We need all of our kids to have an excellent education and large part of that is a great teacher.

My kid wasn’t ambivalent; she knew what she wanted. In fact, she begged me to transfer her out of the school that she had once loved. Even at 8, she was willing to say goodbye to all her friends to gain a sense of emotional safety and sanity.

I love my school and count many of my colleagues as my friends. The teachers (including my daughter’s former teachers) work extremely hard, and it’s obvious that they care about the students. And since it’s a charter school, parents like me feel fortunate that our kids’ names were pulled from the lottery and granted admission. I’ve often lamented that all kids and parents don’t have access to good schools like this one, district or charter.

But now I found myself contemplating the unthinkable—transferring my little girl out.

Parents are dealing with these struggles every day. Charter or traditional public school we need to make sure that every child has an effective teacher. I keep saying that our kids aren’t going to get those days of lost education back. We need to care right now about getting the best kids in the classroom.

The mom continues…

Last week, a colleague passed on a powerful article about the author Doug Lemov, who wrote “Teach Like a Champion,” to my principal, who then passed it on to me. These bits from the article gave me peace about the decision I made:

The evidence suggests that a child at a bad school taught by a good teacher is better off than one with a bad teacher at a good school. The benefits of having been in the class of a good teacher cascade down the years; the same is true of the penalty for having had a bad teacher.

In 1992, an economist called Eric Hanushek reached a remarkable conclusion by analyzing decades of data on teacher effectiveness: a student in the class of a very ineffective teacher—one ranked in the bottom 5 percent—will learn, on average, half a year’s worth of material in one school year, whereas if she was in the class of a very effective teacher—in the top 5 percent—she would learn a year and a half’s worth of material. In other words, the difference between a good and a bad teacher is worth a whole year.

Here you go. Evidence that our kids are literally loosing out by not having a great teacher. Parents are left with very few options if they feel their child is not getting an adequate education. And sometimes they choose another school, yet they shouldn’t have to. While education theorists and unions and the media are criticizing themselves daily, our nation’s kids are sitting in classrooms with ineffective teachers. We need to spend more time “on the ground” with kids and teachers and less time in the ivory towers of “theory” and “rhetoric.”

The mom ends:

It means that if any one of my students’ parents were to have insight into the day-to-day happenings in the school or classroom the way I am privy to it as a staff member, would they trust that their child was getting the absolute best education possible?

In other words, it means that educators need to approach our practice with the same diligence we would have if our own biological child sat in every single class.

My household operates on a tight budget, so the $700 a month private school tuition bill I now have to pay really hurts. But now that my little girl is excited about learning again and is able to focus in class, I realize that the cost of the status quo was way more expensive.

Advertisements

Stop vilifying pro-ed reform Democrats

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

I wrote about Governor Deal’s Opportunity School District bill in these posts: Opposition to Gov Deal’s Opportunity School District wasn’t strong enough to prevent passage & GA follows LA & TN to an Opportunity School District

It’s passage was close and in a heavily Republican state still needed key Democrats to vote. The GA House vote was very close with one vote to spare to meet the 2/3 majority needed. Of course it brought out the worst in people.

My FB feed was full of people bashing Democrats for their vote on this bill and claiming for “new leadership.”

Here is what one of the Democrats who voted for the bill wrote in a press release:

ATLANTA- March 25, 2015 – Today, Representative Erica Thomas (D- Austell) commented on the passage of SR 287.

“Moments ago, I voted “YES” on SR 287, the Opportunity School District (OSD) resolution,” said Rep. Erica Thomas. “I believe – and will always believe – that as a representative of the people of Georgia – we – as legislators – must do our best to serve the interests of our constituents.

While I understand that everyone won’t be satisfied, it is important that we give the people of Georgia alternatives to the current model of education. Plainly stated, what we are currently doing isn’t working. We have to try something new, something big. A lot of people have been lobbying me on this issue, and one thing that concerns me is that the fate of the children – the actual human beings involved – comes up very little. Our children need to be central to the conversation. And so it is through prayer and reflection with our children in mind that I decided to vote “yes.” It isn’t popular, but it’s a chance we have to take to get these schools – and more importantly – our children back on track.”

I thought it was extremely telling that she wrote that when the folks lobby her on this issue the fate of the children rarely comes up. Its all just rhetoric and politics. What we know is that what we have now, isn’t working. And the most powerful stories come from those who tell stories like this from this post: When the only option is a failing school

She is entering Kindergarten next year. It’s too late for her to go to a public charter school to get picked for the lottery. The schools around one of her homes (she has 3—long story, don’t ask) is BAD, the school around her other home is WORSE and the school around her last home is THE WORST. She’s a smart kid and I only want the best for her. Private school isn’t a viable option at this point.

These stories are real, and from all over the country. And these parents deserve a great school for their child. Let’s give it to them NOW, not the “wait and see” method.

Sounds good in theory, but not in practice

In response to this post about AL moving towards charters: AEA spews lies in response to “School Choice” March, I received this comment:

“…By the way, the people who decided to send their kids to a private school chose to do that, oftentimes not because the school was “failing”, but because of too many black people. Their choice to abandon public for private is their choice, but they shouldn’t get a voucher for it. Afterall, they are the one’s who turned their back on the local community, rather than fighting for it. As someone in the Dekalb Democratic Party you ought to know that racism is usually a determining factor when kids are sent to private school. The same will happen with charters. The domino affect means fewer good kids in public schools and what’s left will continue to drag society down rather than good people finding a real solution. Really it’s laziness on their part and people like you who just run away from the problems, opening schools that “get away” from the less fortunate, and closing schools they “don’t like anymore”. Seriously, it’s downward spiral once kids start abandoning a school, but you know this. Frankly, it’s astounding your arguments here and that you consider yourself a democrat…”

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

1. I never mentioned race, you did. So I would have to say it is you who is the racist one against black people because your mind went there.

2. Parents send their children to private or charter schools for a variety of reasons – avoiding an underperforming school, religious or educational style preference, or personal experience just to name a few.  I believed that one major concern with “vouchers”  was that money could be sent to a religious school and that is a conflict of church and state. But it makes sense that the money should follow the child wherever the parents decide is best for them. Educational style differences such as The Met in Providence or even the Waldorf school or Sudbury School here in Atlanta are all reasons why parents may choose another school. Traditional Public schools do not generally offer these alternative, hands on, democratically arranged school curriculum so parents would have to send their children elsewhere.

3. Turned their back on the community? What about principals like here in my feeder pattern who would only allow parental involvement on HER terms and pushed soo many parents away that they created their own charter school practically next door. What about school administrators who don’t fire ineffective teachers and principals, or just move them around? How does that serve the community? When we graduate students who are not equipped to lead successful lives and therefore end up in a life many would not consider positively contributing to society – the schools were a big part of that result. And you are concerned that parents turned their backs?

4. I was talking with a teacher friend of mine who if getting her PhD and currently works running a program to assist with suspended and frequently offending students in schools. She admitted that if she lived in an underperforming school district, that she would send her child to another school, but would still work within the community to make that community school better. That’s a beautiful act to take – however, if you are a single parent, or even a two parent household with multiple jobs/kids, it maybe all you can do to manage relationships at your children’s actual school. It could prove difficult to split time between a school your kids do attend and the neighborhood school.

5. Again, who is the racist one, who doesn’t believe in the capacity of students? You state that when we take the “good kids” out of the poor schools the schools just get worse and will drag society down. The only thing that determines how well a school does are the students and teachers in the school. Has nothing to do with the students who are not there. The money follows the child and that is the same everywhere.

6. Everything you say sounds good in theory. The problem is, when a parent is faced with what they should do with their child in the moment – its going to be what is best, not necessarily what is best for the community. Parents have a responsibility first to their child, not the community. Parents choose other schools not to diminish the community but to do their best to offer their child a quality education. Kids don’t have any time to waste. Every minute that they spend in an underperforming school is a school day the child will never get back. There is more on this posted here: Democrats are cavalier about students.

Unions do what they want, without majority of teacher input

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

In my last post I talked about how teachers should pay the union dues directly, so they can have more control over the actions of their union and because I think it’s veering on an illegal use of taxpayer monies.

I also think that unions would have to pay more attention to their teachers if they had to actually collect the monies. You might be surprised to think that teacher’s don’t have much say in their union. Isn’t it there to protect teachers and represent them? I’m not entirely sure which teachers unions are representing, but its not the majority of teachers.

I can tell you from my own experience as a student in my public schools that the teacher who were younger, more innovative and wanted to make change were easily rebuffed by union officials. So much so that they are scared to go against the union. Scared to speak up? Oh and by the way, the same people you are scared to speak up against, are taking your money for union dues without any say from you.

Now that I think about it, it’s like taxpayers who are scared or unmotivated to approached their legislators about how their own tax money is being spent.

Bottom line, these people are taking your money, more or less without your say so and then are spending it on who knows what.

When I was an intern during my school counseling program, I worked for a counselor who was retiring the next year. She was in a group of teachers who all sat together at lunch and literally gossiped about everyone and made lots of off handed comments about their retirement, their workload, making everything seem like a big sham. They were in it for them first and it at all, the kids second.

Dmitri Mehlhorn has a great piece called: Why Teachers Have No Voice. He makes some very compelling points.

He talks about how his mom was a teacher and when she became a union rep, saw that while she was trying to adovcate for student achievement to be the union’s goal, it was really about job protection and salaries. He says his mom retired early and still worries about ineffective teachers.

A close look shows that many teachers believe in parent engagement and choice. When the chips are down – in other words, when it comes to their own children – public school teachers are twice as likely as other parents to send their kids to private schools. When I had an ineffective teacher as a child, my mom pinched pennies to put me into a private school for a few years. Teachers do this for reasons eloquently explained by Ray Salazar, a Chicago Public Schools teacher who wrote about his choices for his own children and why public education should offer more choices for all parents.

More than anyone else, fellow teachers know how other teachers teach. The most disturbing thing for my as a school counselor intern was that no matter how much time I spend working with a student, I still have to sent him back to the 5/6 ineffective teachers. There is nothing I can do to help him overcome that. And it feels like all the work I do unravels as soon as he walks out the door. I suspect that is why teachers often make choices other than public school for their kids, because while a parent may fight the system to get what their child needs, a teacher knows the fight could be futile, or even detrimental to their own job.

Three quarters of all teachers and an even higher percentage of highly recognized teachers believe it needs to be easier to dismiss ineffective teachers. Unfortunately, teachers feel that they have no voice outside their classrooms.

It is still excruciatingly difficult to dismiss ineffective teachers, while 3/4 of teachers believe it should be easier.

Dmitri’s mom is not the only one to realize that unions aren’t what we need them to be:

My mom’s experience, however, alerted me to the sincerity of those who have concluded that reform unionism is a mirage. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who concluded that teachers’ unions have been an “unwavering road block to reform,” started his career as a teachers’ union organizer. Civil rights leader Howard Fuller traveled a similar path: starting his career as a public sector union organizer, but eventually concluding that the unions prioritized political power over student interests.

I, myself, used to be vehemently for teachers, no questions asked. I assumed, naturally, that the teachers deserved the contracts they asked for because teachers are the foundation of our society. I blindly supported teachers until I started to perform more research. Now I see the evidence everywhere.

Union leaders tend to be unrepresentative. A 2005 survey of membership and leadership by the National Education Association found that only 15 percent of teachers are actively involved with the union.

If unions are going to useful in a positive way, they need to embrace more of their membership. And I think they should get to know all of them better by requiring them to pay the dues out of pocket instead of automatically through their paycheck.

 

Michelle Obama, I don’t want any bad schools!

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

In this last post I discuss how Democrats are cavalier about students and their education, and here we have Michelle Obama confirming that sentiment – to an extent.

Huffington Post, via the AP reported that last Friday, Michelle Obama  called education the “single most important” civil rights issue facing the country and pleaded with young people to make going to school a priority, even if all they have is a “bad school.”

As part of a speech at the White House honoring Black History Month, the First Lady stressed the importance of staying in school, especially when so many have fought to allow attendance.

“And today, thanks to their sacrifice, there are no angry mobs gathering outside our schools,” she said. “Nobody needs a military escort to get to class, but that doesn’t mean that our children don’t still face struggles when it comes to education.”

Mrs. Obama, who attributes her own success to education and heads an initiative that encourages young people to pursue post-secondary education, said too many students still attend dilapidated schools or schools that lack the latest technology or the college prep classes and college counseling they need.

Students fall behind in life when they fall behind in school, she said.

“So, like many of you, I believe that education is the single most important civil rights issue that we face today,” the first lady said.

She said education will help solve issues like mass incarceration, racial profiling, voting rights “and the kinds of challenges that shocked so many of us over the past year,” an apparent reference to police-involved killings of black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island in New York City.

The first lady urged the young people in the audience to “translate the victories that these women won into habits in your own lives.”

“That means going to class every day. Every day. No matter what obstacle life may throw your way, go to school,” she said. “Go to the bad school that you have. Go to school.”

I agree that education is a civil rights issue of our time. And I agree that students shouldn’t go to no school at all, if all you can do is attend the “bad school.”

But I really don’t like that statement. I understand her point is that you should go to school no matter what…but I feel like in some ways it ignores or excuses the bad schools. I would have liked some more language in there about how we’re working to fix them or to seek out alternatives if you have a bad school, but still go to school. Its the same thing as a legislator telling their constituent, “Yes I know your school isn’t performing well, but there is nothing we can do about it right now.” A little more compassion would have been appreciated. I was also not at the speech, perhaps she did speak more about it?

 

Placing blame does not excuse your responsibility to offer quality education

© Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

© Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

I’d like to offer a response to the comments of the Warwick City Councilor who I’ve started a conversation with about my own high school experience.

Maggie, It is apparent that you were completely dissatisfied with your HS experience in the Warwick School District. That is really unfortunate but not peculiar to public school systems or the City of Warwick. You are convinced you would have “thrived” at the Met School which offers an alternative learning experience. Perhaps, perhaps not.

Yes, I was pretty dissatisfied with my experience at Pilgrim High School. You can learn more about why in this last post. But indicating that my experience is not “peculiar” does not excuse my high schools responsibility to offer a quality education. Claiming that other schools are not better, does not excuse your responsibility to offer a quality education. I’d like you to spend less time putting other school options down and working to fix your own schools.

I have been a mentor to students while they were enrolled at the Met. They did not flourish or enjoy the rigidity of public school education and sought a different educational platform. One dropped out of the Met because she lacked the discipline to take charge of her own education and could not handle the responsibilities or the freedom. A second graduated from the Met but left college for lack of preparation and found competition in college too stressful. In both cases, the students washed out of traditional secondary education. And others succeeded at various levels, the same proportionally to traditional schools.

I applaud your efforts to mentor students at The Met. However your story only relates to these two students in particular. The fact that they were are at The Met in the first place, indicates that they were searching for something OTHER THAN traditional public school. Can you say they would have performed better in their traditional public school? They made an effort to try a different type of school. So it did not work for them, but they tried. Clearly they were looking for another option. Perhaps a third type of school would have been appropriate. We can’t limit options because some students don’t do well. We need to continue to offer options so that as many students as possible have the opportunity to try something new to be successful. Again, it is unfortunate that those students were not able to or successful at attending college. But can you say they would have been more successful in college had they stayed in their traditional public school? I doubt it. Your own admission that the rest of the students succeed at various levels proportional to traditional public schools indicates that alternative education schools are AS SUCCESSFUL as traditional public schools. And for those students, maybe they needed a school like The Met. Maybe those students wouldn’t have been as successful in traditional public schools.

Alternative ed is not a magic button. It may work for some but not others—just like any other school. My Resolution to withhold financial support to Mayoral Academies is based on the belief that our taxpayers should NOT be forced to pay for the charter school experience for anyone but their own children. Warwick school district pays over $1.2 million for students to be educated outside the city. If a student decides to return to their city of origin after 1 October of the school year, the money stays with the outside charter school and the Warwick school district must make up the difference. Why is that fair?

So, if I read this correctly, your only complaint is that IF a student returns to their how city after Oct 1, the city doesn’t recover those funds. How many students does this actually apply to and how much money is that? Because I bet the Warwick residents who ARE sending their students to another school in another city of their choosing expect their tax dollars to pay for that education. So while you may be helping the few exceptions, you are not helping the majority who likely stay in the school of their choice.

We have students who live in Warwick and choose to attend parochial schools, which are also charter schools. Should we augment those costs next? 

There is a clear separation of church and state so, should public money go to private schools? Not necessarily. But what do we say to the parent who determines that the public education they are paying for isn’t good enough for their child and they choose to pay out of pocket for those costs? They are literally paying for two educations. Granted we make a similar argument that residents without children still pay for those education costs, but that can be seen as contributing the society as a whole AND those residents are not paying twice for their education. I’m not saying we should allocate public funds for private schools, but I think we need to recognize that these parents have a valid concern and the least we could do is provide the public funding for public charter schools to support the students who choose to attend.

the school system has its problems but you don’t fix them by pulling the kids out and bringing financial resources to charter schools.

Obviously, it doesn’t improve schools to loose monies – but what are the schools doing to FIX the schools? We pour money into schools and seldom get results. If the schools could start implementing some bolder ideas, perhaps learn from some of the successful elements of charters, maybe they would be better. But you cannot tell parents and student, “Just wait, don’t leave your school, it’s going to get better.” Are you seriously going to tell that to your constituents? “Our schools are going to get worse if you don’t attend here, and we lose the funding from your child.” A parent would laugh at you. Their best interest is in their child, and you are NOT taking their child’s best interest into consideration.

 If a child will THRIVE in charter school because of smaller classrooms or specialized instruction, then Warwick should create District charter schools or academies or “school within a school.”

I hate to have a “duh” moment here…but yes! Implement some of the strategies that have worked in charters into your public schools. But where are they? When is this progress going to come? Talk is cheap. Until you ACTUALLY have the programs in schools students want and will thrive with, you can’t make them stay there. DO IT and then you can argue all day long that you  should keep the kids in traditional public schools.

Why bus our kids outside of their neighborhoods? I went to school during a time of forced busing. It was nothing short of a nightmare. Why send Warwick tax dollars to Providence or other municipality schools? How does that improve the issues that made you so unhappy when you attended school so many years ago?

I believe my prior statements answer these questions. We aren’t forcing busing anymore. That argument doesn’t stand. Why send tax dollars to another municipality? So your residents can get the education they desire and deserve and their funds should travel with them. Even if the money stayed in the school district, wouldn’t you equally argue that Warwick shouldn’t have to pay for out of city students?

Because money isn’t the problem. Policy is the problem. Sometimes, teachers and unions are the problem. Sometimes its principals, or superintendents. We have been pouring money into problems for ages and haven’t seen results. When you can implement the strategies that all students need in your schools, make the argument all you want. But until you can accomplish that, don’t deny students and parents the right to put their child’s best interest first and send their child to a school better suited for their success.

I appreciate your comments but as you said, you no longer live in the community where you were educated. I was elected to represent the folks who still live here and while my responsibilities do not extend to educational policy, my fiscal duties remain steadfast to Warwick tax payers. Be well.

I believe I addressed the issues of fiscal responsibility to residents of Warwick above. In your attempt to protect Warwick tax payer funding, you are putting those parents and students who aren’t satisfied with their Warwick public education at a severe disadvantage. And those students and parents don’t have anyone, especially not you representing them. Your role is to ALL residents, not just the ones you are choosing to represent.

Parents rally at Alabama Capitol for school choice

Hundreds of people participate in a National School Choice Week rally as they make their way up the sidewalk along Dexter avenue to the Alabama State Capitol, Wednesday Jan. 28, 2015, in Montgomery, Ala. Parents and students rallied on the lawn of the Alabama Capitol Wednesday, urging state politicians to provide more publicly funded education options.(AP Photo/Hal Yeager)

Hundreds of people participate in a National School Choice Week rally as they make their way up the sidewalk along Dexter avenue to the Alabama State Capitol, Wednesday Jan. 28, 2015, in Montgomery, Ala. Parents and students rallied on the lawn of the Alabama Capitol Wednesday, urging state politicians to provide more publicly funded education options.(AP Photo/Hal Yeager)

 In this last post, Alabama Educators Association helping or hurting students? it was noted that only 54% of African American boys are graduating in Alabama.  A  recent study reported:

WalletHub study recently ranked the state’s school systems the third-worst in the nation. Only Mississippi and the District of Columbia were worse.

WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of this year’s best and worst school systems, using a dozen key metrics, including dropout rates, test scores and bullying incident rates to assess the quality of education in each state. It ranked Alabama 49th overall.

In this post, AEA spews lies in response to “School Choice” March, it is clear that the union thinks more money will fix the problem and they support the status quo – 49th in education and 54% graduation rate for African American boys. 

Parents want change, legislators want change, but union leaders don’t. Remember, union leaders represent teachers – not kids, or parents, or communities. And they buy legislators to keep their pockets full. 

Last Wednesday, chanting and carrying signs saying, “School Choice Now,” parents and students rallied on the lawn of the Alabama Capitol on Wednesday urging state politicians to provide more publicly funded education options.

The school choice rally came as Republicans prepare to make a push for charter schools in the upcoming legislative session. House Speaker Mike Hubbard and Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, speaking during the event, promised to pass the legislation in the session that begins in March.

Hubbard said too many parents are forced each morning to send their children to schools that aren’t the best fit for their children.

“They deserve access to good quality education, whether public or private, no matter where they live, no matter their zip code … no matter their income,” Hubbard said.

Dalphne Wilson of Montgomery said the Accountability Act scholarship lets her send her daughter to a private Catholic school that her son already attended.

Wilson said she thought the teachers at her daughter’s previous public school were doing the best they could, but they were dealing with myriad challenges every day, including unmotivated students.

“Now, she’s surrounded by high expectations,” Wilson said.

We need to work on helping to motivate our students better through school counseling and practices that engage our students at high levels. But until that time comes, parents need options today, right now, to send their children to school that work for them. Every single day a student doesn’t receive the education he/she deserves and needs is a wasted day of education that these kids will never regain. 

The crowd was made up of primarily African-American families. Duncan Kirkwood, director at Alabama Black Alliance for Educational Options, said too often minority students are zoned for schools that have historically underperformed.

“Every child has a different need and parents, even if they don’t have access to money, should have access to options,” said Kirkwood said.

In perhaps a preview of the legislative fights past and future, marchers passed by the Alabama Education Association building where a group waved signs in counter protest. The state teachers’ organization has been at odds for the past four years with the education policies pushed by the new GOP-supermajority. AEA officials said public school funds are too limited in Alabama to be drained off to private schools or new charter schools.

“Parents can choose to send their children to faith-based schools. They can choose to send their children to private schools. We don’t ask the taxpayers to fund that choice,” AEA President Anita Gipson said.

Diverting money from public schools to private hands…you what really strikes me about that? Parents who send their kids to a non public school are still paying their fare share of the taxes to support public schools their kids are not attending. That’s like saying, “Oh, I gave you a defective car? Oh I’m sorry, but you need to finish paying for that car and buy a new one, there is just nothing else I can do if you want to have a car to drive.” While not all charter schools are successful, plenty of them are. Parents clearly want choices. Alabama is about to give it to them.